Canada, EU Take on Credit Card Interchange Reform

While the fight over credit card interchange fees continues to work its way through courts in the United States, Canada and the European Union have also waded into the battle, both focusing more on new regulations than on legal rulings.

Canada's Competition Tribunal ruled against the Commissioner of Competition last week in a case brought against the Canadian arms of Visa and MasterCard over the card networks' surcharging and acceptance requirements. The Commissioner, which serves as Canada's consumer watchdog, alleged that Visa and MasterCard rules that bar merchants from levying surcharges on card users and force merchants to accept all of each company's credit cards, including those with higher interchange fees, have "an adverse effect on competition."

Although the Tribunal dismissed the case, it acknowledged that these rules were anti-competitive, but also said that the solution to the problem lay in a change in Canada's regulatory framework, leaving the door open for future challenges, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). "While the decision is disappointing, CFIB is pleased the Competition Tribunal recognized the adverse effect Visa and MasterCard policies have had on competition," said CFIB President Dan Kelly. "The Tribunal has also suggested a regulatory solution."

A new regulatory solution in Canada could closely resemble the proposal put forth by the European Commission last week. To learn more about that proposal, check out this week's edition of NACM's eNews.

- Jacob Barron, CICP, NACM staff writer

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